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Adventure

Six Californian Backcountry Ski Huts

When "destination skiing" doesn't mean flying to a ski resort.

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Getting there:  Heading south from Mt. Shasta city on Interstate 5 take exit 736 for Highway 89, the turn off for Ski Park Highway is on the left…

Getting there:  Heading south from Mt. Shasta city on Interstate 5 take exit 736 for Highway 89, the turn off for Ski Park Highway is on the left hand side four miles east of the Interstate.  The hike from the base of Mount Shasta Ski Park is approximately  1100 vertical feet. The hut sits at 7400 ft just beneath the summit of 8100’ Grey Butte peak.

Reservations:  The Beyond the Boundaries program at Mount Shasta Ski Park is a way for backcountry first timers to get an introduction to backcountry techniques and avalanche safety. An all day excursion will cost $129 and includes a guided tour and lunch complete with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments. Experienced skiers and riders are welcome to visit the hut on their own, but will require a lift ticket or season pass to access Mount Shasta Ski Park property.

The lodging:  The Beyond the Boundaries program does not currently offer overnight stays, but the locals have been known to spend the night on Grey Butte. Be prepared to bring all your own amenities. The small hut provides sleeping space for an intimate group.

The skiing:  Grey Butte offers terrain for skiers and riders of all abilities from a mellow cruise back to the ski park to steep tree runs and wide open glades accessed from the summit.

Photo Credit: Garrett Smith

Getting there: Overnight parking is available at Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge on Donner Pass Road, or at Sugarbowl Ski resort. Sugarbowl offers…

Getting there: Overnight parking is available at Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge on Donner Pass Road, or at Sugarbowl Ski resort. Sugarbowl offers a one-way lift ticket for $25 if you want to spend less time hiking and more time skiing. From Mt. Lincoln it’s 3 miles south-east along the ridge to the hut located on the north face of Anderson Peak. From the Clair Tappaan Lodge it is about 1200 vertical feet from Lake Mary to Mt. Lincoln along the Pacific Crest Trail. Previous ski mountaineering experience is advised. Expect bare patches and ice between Mt. Lincoln and the hut and the ridge is often exposed to high winds. There is an alternate route starting from Squaw Valley via Tinker’s Knob.

Reservations: Benson Hut follows the same reservation policies as the Peter Grubb and Bradley huts.

The lodging: There are six fold out bunks downstairs plus a loft that can sleep 12.  There is a wood stove for heat and firewood is stocked each fall. Expect to bring your own cook stove, utensils and entertainment. There is a two-story outhouse nearby.

The skiing: Benson offers access to open bowls and some gnarly lines without having to skin up until after your first run. The runs are short allowing you to make as many laps as you can handle. The hut is sometimes used as a stop on a two-day Donner Summit to Squaw Valley tour.

 

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club. 

Getting there: Head north on Highway 89 from Tahoe City. Park on the shoulder near the turn off for Forest Road 8, be sure your vehicle is completely…

Getting there: Head north on Highway 89 from Tahoe City. Park on the shoulder near the turn off for Forest Road 8, be sure your vehicle is completely off the road and behind the snow stakes. Follow FR-8 for 5 miles to the hut at 7,400’.

Reservations: Like the Peter Grubb hut, Bradley Hut is also owned and maintained by the Sierra Club and follows the same reservation requirements. It’s $15 per person a night. Due to its location in a sensitive wildlife area, Bradley hut is only open during the winter months.

The lodging: The hut is heated by woodstove, and is stocked with wood each fall. 12-15 people can sleep comfortable in the upstairs loft. Like the Peter Grubb hut, expect to bring bedding, a cook stove and utensils. There is a two-story outhouse nearby.

The skiing: Good lines are to be found in all directions from the hut including good stashes in the Deep Creek drainage to the north along with open bowls to the north-west and Silver Peak to the south.  Some skiers make a two-night trip by travelling to Benson Hut located 4 miles to the north. As always, be aware of avalanche danger especially under corniced ridges and on Silver Peak.

 

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club. 

Getting there: The route starts at the McKinney Creek Trailhead just south of Homewood Mountain Resort on the West shore, parking is difficult, but…

Getting there: The route starts at the McKinney Creek Trailhead just south of Homewood Mountain Resort on the West shore, parking is difficult, but not impossible. Overnight parking is allowed in the surrounding residential area, but make sure your vehicle is off the road and behind the snow stakes. Follow the trail for six miles to Richardson Lake. The hut is at 7400’.

Reservations: Ludlow follows the same reservation policies as the other three Sierra Club huts

The lodging: The upstairs loft sleeps 15. The area downstairs includes a kitchen and living room with woodstove plus storage area.

The skiing: Ludlow doesn’t offer a lot in terms of downhill skiing but the surrounding area is great terrain to brush up on your Nordic skills. 

 

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club. 

Getting there: Follow Mt. Baldy Rd. to San Antonio Falls Road, about four miles past Mt. Baldy Village. Park at the gate, the trailhead is…

Getting there: Follow Mt. Baldy Rd. to San Antonio Falls Road, about four miles past Mt. Baldy Village. Park at the gate, the trailhead is approximately a mile past the gate from there it’s a steep three-mile hike to the hut.

Reservations: The San Antonio hut is open on a first come first served basis, though it is advisable to contact a hut host to check availability prior to leaving. Reservations are required for large groups. A donation of $15 for Sierra Club members and $20 for Non-members is appreciated.

The lodging: The San Antonio Hut is plush by backcountry standards with a fully equipped kitchen, solar lighting and running water piped from a nearby spring. The hut sleeps up to 20 people, but bring your own bedding. Books, board games and two guitars are provided for your entertainment. Due to fire restrictions, all cooking must be done on woodstoves inside of the hut and open fires are prohibited. Camping is allowed within 200’ of the hut with permission.

The skiing: Baldy Bowl offers plenty of skiing when conditions are good. Those who are feeling adventurous might want to check out West Baldy, Harwood or the north side. The Dare and Shit Chute offer an extra challenge for those who can handle it.

 

Photo courtesy of Gil Estrada

Getting there: From Truckee, head west on Interstate 80. Take the Castle Peak exit and park in the sno-park near Boreal Inn. Parking permits are…

Getting there: From Truckee, head west on Interstate 80. Take the Castle Peak exit and park in the sno-park near Boreal Inn. Parking permits are available for $5 a day. It’s a three-mile hike from the parking area to the hut located in the saddle between Castle and Andesite peaks.

Reservations: Peter Grubb hut is one of four ski huts owned by the Sierra Club in the Tahoe area. It costs $15 per person a night. Reservations are required during the winter, especially on weekends, and are given out through a lottery system. Requests for reservations are accepted beginning in late fall. Once the initial lottery is complete, reservations are taken by phone throughout the winter.

The lodging: The hut sleeps up to 15 people in the upstairs loft. The downstairs features a kitchen and a main room with a wood-burning stove. The cabin is stocked with wood in the fall. Expect to split it yourself. It is recommended that you bring bedding, a cook stove and utensils.  A two story outhouse is located nearby.

The skiing: Castle and Basin peaks offer some moderate angle skiing and open bowls. Beginners in the backcountry can find mellow terrain around the hut in Round Valley. 

 

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club.